Day 11: Cranberry Lemon Shortbread Bars
I’ve just arrived at Hailey’s house for a week of fun. Our itinerary: Sonoma wine country for Hailey’s birthday (happy birthday!), day hiking on New Year’s Eve Day and a celebratory New Year’s Eve night in San Francisco … and oh yeah, don’t forget, a vacation with us is no vacation if we don’t include tons of food. So, it’s basically guaranteed to be a blast.
I made these cookies right before my 10 hour drive up north, and I’ve got to say that my favorite thing about these cookies are how tart they are. The lemon and fresh cranberries complement each other perfectly, making for the best bite-sized on-the-road snacks. I hope you enjoy!
Cranberry Lemon Shortbread Bars
4 Cups of Flour
1 Cup of Butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Lemon Juice
2/3 Cup of Fresh Cranberries, plus a handful for garnish
The Zest From 1 Lemon
Sift together the flour and sugar until completely combined. Using a mixer on the lowest speed, gradually add the cubes of butter until the mixture starts to look like large crumbles. Sprinkle the lemon zest and juice and combine. By this time the dough should come together when you grab it in your hands. Slice the cranberries and add them to the dough.
Line a 13 X 9 inch pan with wax or parchment paper. Spread the dough out on the pan. Press the dough firmly into the pan. Using a sharp knife, begin to carefully cut the bars. *Note: the dough will be extremely crumbly in texture. You will need to press it down again after you perforate the dough to form the bars.* Garnish each bar with a cranberry by firmly pressing a cranberry in the middle of each bar. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the shortbread starts to look browned.
Makes approximately 30 bars.
Day 10: Cinnamon-Raisin Rugelach
Merry Christmas everyone! I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because 1) it’s past midnight and I’m getting sleepy (chalk it up to a cookie coma), and 2) my cat Sophie is being inexplicably sweet. Seriously though, anyone that knows Sophie knows her as the cat that characteristically runs and hides under the bed for hours. So, excuse me while I take advantage of what little kitten love and attention I can get.
I actually first decided to make these cookies on recommendation from a coworker. And, boy, am I glad I did. Not only are they super simple to make, they are really customizable. On top of it all, they look like you spent hours in the kitchen when in actual reality, you only really put in about 30 minutes of prep time.
Also, given that the original recipe calls for two sticks of butter and one packet of cream cheese (no amount at the gym could save me there), I ended up using only 3/4ths of the original butter in the recipe and half of the cream cheese.
Cinnamon-Raison Rugalach Cookies (adapted from The Kitchn)
2 Cups of Flour
1/2 Package (4 oz) of Cream Cheese, cubed
3/4 Cup of Cold Butter, cubed
1 Tsp. of Vanilla
1 egg yolk
1/2 Cup of Sugar
2 Tbsp. of Cinnamon
1/2 Cup of Raisins, chopped
2 Tbsp. of Butter, melted
Using your hands, cut a few tablespoons at a time of the butter and cream cheese into the flour. Once the dough starts to form rough crumbs, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolk and the vanilla. Sprinkle this egg mixture over the flour mixture and mix using hands until the dough starts to clump together. Divide dough in two, form two balls and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Once the dough has chilled, turn one of the dough balls out onto a powdered sugar surface (do not skimp on the powdered sugar!). Roll the dough ball into a circle until about 1/8th an inch thick. Brush the dough with the melted butter, generously cover with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and sprinkle the raisins on last. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into even “pizza slices.” *Note: the recipe I followed said to create 16 even slices, but I found it easier to create 15 slices.* Roll each slice tightly into a crescent and place onto an ungreased baking sheet, crescent tail down. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Use the same process with the other refrigerated dough ball.
Makes approximately 30 cookies.
Day 9: Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Christmas is 2 days away! It’s hard to believe that 2014 has come and gone. This is my first holiday season on the east coast, and I’ve been loving all of the Christmas decorations in New York City. I’ve walked by the Rockefeller tree about three times already because it truly is that magnificent. Although winter hasn’t been too bad yet, this cooler weather is definitely more conducive to baking, especially on overcast Sunday afternoons.
This past weekend I wanted to bake something sweet using rosemary, because it’s one of my favorite flavors and I thought it could be interesting to use in a cookie. I came across this great recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Two Peas and their Pod, and gave it a whirl using star cookie-cutters to make the cookies a little more festive for the holidays. I took these to a holiday party this weekend and they were definitely a hit. They have a very interesting flavor given the bits of savory herb baked right into them, but man they made my apartment smell amazing.
These would be great cookies to leave for Santa too, since they can be made into all sorts of fun shapes with the kids!
Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies (Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod)
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tsp Lemon Zest
1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary, minced
1 Lb Butter, unsalted and room-temperature
3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, lemon zest and rosemary. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand-held mixer), cream butter until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar on medium speed until fully combined. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Slowly add flour mixture until just combined.
Take dough out of the bowl and combine into a bowl. Place on counter and form into a disk shape. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Pre-heat oven to 325 deg F. Remove dough from fridge, and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes of choice. (Can also use an upside-down wine glass for circular cookies). Place cut-outs on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper). Cook for 10-12 minutes. When finished, cool fully on a cooling rack.
Day 8: Persimmon Gingersnap Cookies
This cookie come with two stories: 1) my hatred of ginger root, and 2) my first encounter with persimmons.
First: when I would get sick as a kid, my mom would “force feed” me a spoonful of fresh ground ginger root and honey. The stuff “scarred” me so much, that now I rarely touch the stuff. Seriously though … I avoid the ginger from sushi restaurants, stay away from ginger drink concoctions and usually omit ginger whenever a recipe calls for it. I really, really, really dislike ginger. So, you might be a little confused on why I decided to make gingersnap cookies.
In order to explain, I need to tell you about my first persimmon. Growing up, my mom loved persimmons. And, not the let-me-eat-two-in-one-sitting type of love. I mean, let’s-buy-a-20-pound-box-and-eat-it-until-we-finish kind of love. And though this fruit was commonly found in Korean and other Asian markets (though now, many markets have started carrying persimmons), there’s not too many places where you can buy in bulk … or in my family’s case, in a one-week’s supply. 😉
So, one day my brother, mom and I decided to go persimmon picking. The concept was simple: anything you picked had to be brought to the front, weighed and bought. Well, needless to say, my brother and I got
a little a lot carried away. I can’t remember how many pounds of persimmons we ended up buying, but I do remember that we didn’t run out of the red-orange fruit for quite a while.
Turns out that ginger complements persimmon nicely. Who knew?
Persimmon Gingersnaps (loosely based on the brown eyed baker)
3 Cups of Flour
1/2 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tsp. of Salt
1 1/4 Tsp. of Cinnamon
1 1/4 Tsp. of Ground Cloves
1 Tsp. of Ground Ginger
1 Cup of Butter, room temperature
1 Cup of Sugar
1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. of Vegetable Oil
1 Persimmon, pureed (extra for garnish)
Whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside. In another bowl and using a stand mixer, combine the butter and both sugars until they are completely mixed. Add oil, eggs and persimmon and mix further. On a low speed, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until just combined.
Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough onto a baking sheet about two inches apart. Adorn with persimmon slices if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes. *Note: the edges should turn brown slightly and the middle will be soft).
Makes ~30 cookies
Day 7: Red Velvet “Kringle” Cookies
Can you all believe it’s already half way through December?! Where has the time gone? I feel like it was only a few days ago when Hailey and I started our 12 Days of Cookies adventure. And look at us now … half way through.
I originally wanted to make something festive — evocative of all things “Santa.” So I thought, I love chocolate crinkle cookies. Why don’t I look for a way to transform this classic into a new holiday favorite? And thus, I started my search for the red velvet “Kringle” cookie. (Who doesn’t love a good pun while baking?)
That said, I’ve got a baking confession to make: these aren’t my favorite cookies in the world. To be fair, I’ve never really enjoyed red velvet and I prefer my chocolate as dark and bitter as it gets. But I recently brought these into work, and they were a hit. A few coworkers said that they reminded them of a Mexican bread cookie, which was totally unintentional but awesome. (Hey, I’ll take compliments where I can get them 😉 ). Another plus: these are incredibly simple to make ahead and freeze. In fact, a little chill time is preferred.
A little slightly-random-but-also-related update: I started going to a new gym and working out with a trainer twice a week. And boy, can I tell you, he’s been whipping my poor (and very sore, may I add) booty into shape. I guess that’s a blessing in disguise though. If I continue to eating as many cookies as I’ve been baking, I’m sure to regret it come January 1st. Oh well. What’s 15 more days of sugary indulgence anyways? 😉
Red Velvet “Kringle” Cookies (adapted from Cooking Classy)
3 Cups of Flour
1/4 Cup of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Tsp. of Baking Powder
3/4 Tsp. of Baking Soda
3/4 Tsp. of Salt
3/4 Cup of Butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 Cup of Sugar
1 Tsp. of Almond Milk
1 1/2 Tsp. of Vanilla Extract
10-15 Drops of Red Food Coloring
1/4 Cup of White Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup of Powdered Sugar
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Sift and set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar for around 2-3 minutes on a medium-high speed. Once the butter mixture is pale and fluffy, add one egg at a time, ensuring that each egg is completely mixed in. Add the almond milk, vanilla extract and red food coloring. *Note: start with only a couple drops of red food coloring and slowly add more as desired. I found that I needed more red food coloring (closer to 15 drops), but you may find that to be excessive.* Once the red food coloring is fully mixed in, reduce the speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients. Hand stir in the white chocolate and set in the fridge to chill until dough is firm enough to form into balls.
After about 2 hours, form the dough into balls approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll each red velvet ball in powdered sugar, making sure to cover the entire surface of the cookie. Place on a cookie sheet and slightly flatten the cookie using the back of a large spoon. Cook for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cookies are lightly firm to the touch and cracked on top.
Makes around 30-40 cookies.
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